Jews of Yemen – Front Page

Also in the Jews of Yemen Docuweb:

A Brief Background About Yemen

Yemen is currently considered an underdeveloped country. Still it is blessed with one of the richest and most vibrant histories in the Middle East, with archaeological sites dating back to biblical periods. It is located in the strategic south west of the Arabian Peninsula. It has a varied topography and climate and houses hundreds of diverse tribes that have kept their distinct characteristics throughout the times. Read More…

 

When did the Jews Arrive in Yemen?

Many scholars assume that the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Yemen goes back as far as the period of the 1st Temple – around 1000 years BCE – however archaeological evidence regarding this has yet to be found.

Legends and traditions refer to a few waves of emigration to Yemen in biblical periods, starting with the period of King Solomon and Queen of Saba (Sheba) and ending during the time of Nabonidus (Nabu-na-id), the King of Babylon (556-539 BCE).

Physical evidence for existence of ancient Jewish communities in Yemen have been found in cemeteries where stone graves have Hebrew writing dating back to 311-250 BCE.  Read more…

 

Relations of the Yemenite Jews with their Local Neighbors

Life of the Jews of Yemen was characterized by ups and downs depending on the different periods, different rulers and different locations.

By 380 CE, the influence of the Jews in Yemen was so great that the ruler of the Kingdom of Ḥimyar accepted monotheism and converted to Judaism.

The Jews continued to be a strong community for many years paving the way for a belief in monotheism. They were often successful in commerce and some of the tribes were known for their courage in battle. The conquest of the Jewish stronghold in Khaybar is considered one of the important battles of Islam during their campaign to control the Arabian Peninsula.

In the early  7th century CE the new-born religion of Islam began to expand mainly by force, resulting in restrictions and laws against the non-Muslim communities.

Two major decisions made by the Muslim regimes marked a deep scar in the Yemenite Jews’ collective history. The first was the expulsion to Mawza, in 1679 CE, and the second was the Orphan Decree, which forced Jewish Orphans into Islam. Read more…

 

Yemenite Jews and the American Colony in Jerusalem

The story of the Yemenite Jews who arrived in Jerusalem from 1881 and the American Colony was documented by the daughter of Anna and Horatio Spafford, devout American Christians who  decided to move to the holy land and dedicate their lives to help the needy, regardless of their origin or faith.

In 1881 the Spaffords created, in Jerusalem, what was later called ‘The American Colony’. A year after founding the colony, the Spaffords came across a group of people camping in the fields. They discovered that these were Yemenite Jews who believed that this was the time for the Jews to return to the land of their forefathers. This coincided with Spafford’s own conviction that it was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the return of the Jews. The story of the American Colony and the Jewish immigrants from Yemen describes the generosity of the Spaffords and their relations with the Yemenite Jews. Read more…

Kinneret and the Yemenite Pioneers

The immigration of the Jews of Yemen at the end of the 19th century was mostly characterized by hardships. Among other things, financial, organizational, social and cultural differences created a conflict between the immigrants who came from the near east and those who came from east Europe.

In 1911, a group of a few dozen families from Shar-ab in the south of Yemen, picked up their goods and came to the Promised Land, eventually settling beside Lake Kinneret.

Members of the Zionist official organizations misunderstood the needs and mentality of these settlers and, in some cases, misbehavior by individual farmers and officials resulted in unfortunate consequences. Eighteen years after they arrived, the Yemenite settlers were forced to leave their homes. Read more…

 

Custom, Culture and Folklore of the Yemenite Jews

This page is still under construction.  Currently it provides some videos by Sei Yona, a traditional Yemenite dance troupe.

The root of Yemenite Jewish poetry is religious and national. The poems and songs function as a tool to spread stories, moral teaching and wisdom of the bible. Many  express gratitude to and belief in god and reflect a longing for Zion.

 

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